The War On Body Hair: Women, Winter And Waxing
My life is full of all sorts of humiliation, which has not only made me a better story-teller, but also a rather light-hearted individual.
After 23 years of embarrassing experiences that have definitely built my character (is now not a good time to go into the public urination story?), I thought I had genuinely reached my limit of personal mortification until I decided to wear crop leggings to my yoga class.
I was working on getting my legs to reach the back of my head (call me!) when the instructor, sensing my struggles from across the room, came over to help me into position. As she gripped my ankles to aid my legs backward, she let out a rather obnoxiously noisy gasp.
What happened? Did she accidentally pull my leg out of its socket because that’s kind of what this feels like?
“You need to shave your legs next time,” the evil and very un-zen yogi instructor loudly quipped before leaving me stuck in a literal human ball of shame, embarrassment, sweat and fur. (Isn’t that breaking some kind of client-instructor confidentiality agreements or something?) If it were acceptable to speak during the class, I would have said, “But it’s winter, b*tch!”
So long as it’s below 30 degrees and we have stockpiled on thermals and tights, don’t expect women to break out the razors and throw a shaving party as if we’re all on the swim team together. The last time the bare skin on our legs caught a real breeze, Miley Cyrus was humping foam fingers at the VMAs and Lindsay Lohan was promising she’d stay sober.
Every woman has a different practice when it comes to personal grooming. Some women wax while others shave, some only tend to certain areas, some forgo it all and prefer Mother Nature over Gilette, some use epilators, and then some women, like my Satanist yogi instructor, are freaks of nature hairless cats who would never leave the house with any hair except on their heads.
Regardless, at some point or other this winter, we will all encounter The War on Body Hair.
You know what I’m talking about. The rules on grooming change along with the seasons. It’s been so long since the last time we had completely bare legs that we’re considering sending them a post card.
A general rule of thumb is that as the temperature drops, so does our upkeep. Who needs to waste time removing hair that’s going to be covered by layers of clothing anyway?
Shaving is like this momentous activity that we have to gear up for and tack on an extra 15 minutes to do in the shower. Keeping balance is mandatory, a gentle touch is key for the Achilles’ heel, and not to mention that it requires additional specialized products to really round out the process.
Perhaps our resistance to shave in the winter is really more like us saving up our energy for when summer comes and the task becomes a thrice-weekly engagement? Kind of like the reason animals hibernate -- it’s in our nature, no?
And then there’s waxing, which was quite possibly invented by the male species to get women to touch each other’s genitals and make it easier for a man to find a vagina.
While there are many girls who also employ the technique for other body parts like arms and eyebrows, our hoo-has’ are also on the receiving end of that (hot, gluey) stick, and it’s not always pleasant. Indiana University researchers Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick found in a recent study that nearly 60 percent of American women between 18 and 24 are sometimes or always completely bare down there, while almost half of women in the US between 25 and 29 reported similar habits. The verdict: Pubic hair is on the endangered species list among the Gen-Y crowd.
But as swimsuit season remains on the backburner, shelved with our itty-bitty bikini bottoms and pool party invitations, the need to shell out upwards of $65 for a Brazilian wax slowly fades. Not to mention our motivation to climb up on a table and have our hair follicles ripped out from our labia doesn’t exactly sound like brunching with the gals.
What’s a girl to do in winter? Though pubic hair is most certainly a matter of personal preference, as my tasteless man friend says, “You don’t want to eat out at the restaurant when you’ve already got a plate of bush in your mouth.”
Okay, so that’s one man’s perspective. But seriously, why do we get so up-in-hairy-arms about cold weather grooming? Is it because our hair removal is actually a male construction of femininity? It’s not like the process of waxing is what makes going hairless so attractive.
An argument can be made for both sides. The Au Naturals posture that our hair is womanly, seductive and sexy; the Mr. Bigglesworths believe sans-hair is a soft, clean and sensuous look. Both parties are correct.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter which mentality you fall under. What’s important is that you do what makes you feel most beautiful.
And so, after my public yoga wake-up call, I did what any vulnerable hairy girl would do. I pulled the cropped pants down as much as I could, raced home to jump in the shower and peeled back a layer or two... After all, I had been working out so hard during class, I might as well let those legs come out from hiding.
Top Photo Courtesy: Style Saint